From starting his own car-washing business as an 8-year-old because he desired more cash than pocket money provided, Ben Lambert has shown business acumen from an early age. He also demonstrated precocious culinary gifts, being offered an apprenticeship with the legendary Roux brothers when he was just 14 and later working for a year at Le Gavroche in Mayfair under the mentorship of Michel Roux Junior. Ben has retained his love of the culinary arts and cites cooking for A-list celebs such as Tom Jones, Cher and Bob Geldof as a career highlight but while still in his teens, he came to the conclusion that the chef’s life wasn’t for him.
When it comes to his current career as a digital marketing entrepreneur, City College provided a springboard for Ben when he enrolled on a Business course in 1999. Ben thrived at College and achieved a distinction. “As well as being the place where I met my first proper girlfriend (!), my time at the College gave me a high-level broad understanding of business,” he says. “Even today, I still use what I learnt on the course when I’m writing a business plan.” His success on the course led to him being offered a place on a fast-track management programme at American Express where he later held marketing and project management positions and implemented a counter fraud system that saved the company $1.8m a day.
After five years at American Express, and still aged just 23, Ben took the plunge to start his own business and along with co-founding director Duncan Lindsay, he launched Networks Centre with just a laptop and a mobile. The company grew to become major cabling and security product distributors, with over 50 staff, 70,000 square foot of warehouse capacity, over 1000 active accounts throughout the UK and Europe and a turnover of over £12million. Then, in 2013, Ben made the decision to sell his stake in the business, consolidate his skills in marketing and fulfil the ambition of starting his own digital agency in Brighton. Neptik was born and the company now provides creative digital services which enable a range of hospitality, lifestyle and business-2-business clients to maximise their business. Current clients include Michelin star chefs Galvin Brothers’ new restaurant in Dubai, Journeys by Design, HSBC insurance, Infinity Foods and Jessella – the UK’s biggest cladding company.
These are exciting times for Ben as he aims to expand Neptik and support
Brighton’s booming digital sector. “It’s not necessarily about us becoming the
biggest agency, but I want us to be the best,” he says. “I love the challenge of growing the business, training new staff and building the team and it’s so rewarding to be working on creative projects that we can really get our teeth into. Aside from work, I’m also very much focussed on being a dad. My 6 year old daughter lives with me half the week and it’s a huge part of my life.”
As for his advice for City College’s current Business students and budding entrepreneurs, Ben’s message is all about persistence: “When you think things aren’t progressing as you wish, just keep going and going and going…”